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BuzzFeed: "Community Season 5 Feels Like An Old Friend Has Finally Come Home"

The long-awaited return of the NBC comedy — now back under the watchful eye of creator Dan Harmon — distances itself from its disappointing fourth season. Gas leak year, people. At BuzzFeed, you can read my latest story, " Community Season 5 Feels Like An Old Friend Has Finally Come Home," in which I review the first few episodes of Season 5 of NBC's Community . (YES.) I’ll admit that I was somewhat wary when three episodes from Season 5 of NBC’s Community surfaced on my desk last week. After all, the fourth season of the Dan Harmon-created gonzo comedy — which was Dan Harmon-less, after all — left a lot to be desired. I choose to look at it as an alt-reality version of a show that I had cherished in its first three seasons: The characters vaguely resembled that Greendale study group with whom I had spent so many virtual hours, yet they didn’t feel quite right. Something was off — the plots felt too contrived, and the show wandered into a broadness of comedy that

The Daily Beast: "Community: Season 4 of the NBC Comedy Ponders the End"

(Jordin Althaus/NBC/Sony Pictures) The absurdist comedy returns to NBC on Thursday after a lengthy delay and many behind-the-scenes changes, including the exit of creator Dan Harmon. Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, " Community : Season 4 of the NBC Comedy Ponders the End," in which I review the fourth season of NBC's Community , which returns Thursday evening and after many behind-the-scenes changes. Does the show look and feel as it once did? Or does it feel as though not every came back from summer break? “What’s the deal, Jessica Biel?” Community, after an absence of what feels like five years and numerous timeslot and launch date changes, finally unveils its fourth season on Thursday. For the faithful, waiting this long to return to Greendale has been an arduous trial, particularly as curiosity is running high amid the many behind-the-scenes changes made since the show wrapped up its third season way back in May 2012. For one, seri

The Daily Beast: "18 Shows to Watch This Winter"

Stay cozy this New Year: I find the 18 new and returning television shows that will keep you warm this winter, from Girls and Justified to The Staircase, The Americans , and House of Cards . Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, "18 Shows to Watch This Winter," in which I round up 18 new and returning noteworthy shows that you should be watching between January and March. Some you're looking forward to, some you may not have heard of, and there are a few that you've already drawn a big red circle on the calendar on the day that they return... Yes, Downton Abbey is back: the beloved British period drama returns to PBS’s Masterpiece for a third season beginning on Jan. 6, but it’s not the only new or noteworthy show heading to television this winter. Indeed, some of the most intriguing, dynamic, or plain interesting shows are launching in midseason this year, from Fox’s serial killer drama The Following and Sundance Channel’s Jane Campion-c

The Daily Beast: "Community: The NBC Comedy is Shelved Until Later, But Why?"

I explore NBC’s decision to hold Community until an undisclosed later date, which arrives during a television season that lowers the bar on expectations and on success. At The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, " Community : The NBC Comedy is Shelved Until Later, But Why?" in which I explore some of the reasons why NBC opted to hold Community until a later date. Community will not be returning on Friday, October 19, and will instead remain in limbo for the foreseeable future. While the news left Greendale fans panicking, the network claims it has made the late decision because NBC had focused promotional support on the network’s Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday lineups, apparently forgetting about the existence of Community and Whitney, which were meant to return next Friday. The two low-rated comedies may instead end up filling in for the network’s other trouble spots in the coming weeks or months. While this sort of network scheduling second-guessing is onl

The Daily Beast: "Why Comedy Writers Love HBO's Game of Thrones"

Game of Thrones is beloved by viewers and critics alike. But the Emmy-nominated HBO fantasy drama is also a surprising favorite in the writers’ rooms of TV comedies around Hollywood. I talk to sitcom writers about why they’re obsessed with the sex-and-magic-laden drama, and how the show informs their own narratives. At The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, "Why Comedy Writers Love HBO's Game of Thrones, " in which I talk to writers from Parks and Recreation, Modern Family , and Community about why they love HBO's Game of Thrones, nominated for an Emmy Award for Best Drama. Fox’s upcoming sitcom The Mindy Project, created by and starring Mindy Kaling, deconstructs the romantic comedy fantasies of its lead character, an ob-gyn whose disappointment in the dating world stems from her obsessive viewing of Nora Ephron films. At the Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour in July, Kaling was candid about the role that When Harry Met Sally and oth

The Daily Beast: "Fall TV Preview: Where We Left Off"

Can’t remember how Revenge, Homeland, The Good Wife , or Dexter ended? Refresh your collective memory about the cliffhangers for 27 returning shows—and previews of what’s to come. Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, "Fall TV Preview: Where We Left Off," in which Maria Elena Fernandez and I refresh your memory about how 27 shows--from Revenge and Homeland to The Good Wife and Boardwalk Empire --ended last season... and offer a glimpse about what's to come. Carrie remembered stuff! Leslie was elected! Sheldon took Amy’s hand! Gloria is pregnant! Nucky whacked Jimmy! Victoria Grayson’s plane blew up! Dexter…oh, Dexter! The fall TV season is officially here, which means we can all breathe a sigh of relief and pull ourselves up from the cliff-hanging precipice. Sure, there’s a bunch of new TV shows across the dial champing at the bit for your attention. But we want to focus on your returning old favorites. What’s next on Scandal—will we find o

The Daily Beast: "2012 Emmy Nomination Snubs & Surprises"

The nominations are out: Homeland, Downtown Abbey , and Girls get their shot at the awards, while The Good Wife, Community, Louie, Justified , and many others are shut out. Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, "2012 Emmy Nomination Snubs & Surprises," in which I discuss which shows and actors were snubbed by the TV Academy as well as a few surprise nominations. Plus, view our gallery of the nominees . The Television Academy has today announced its nominations for the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards and, looking at the list, you may be forgiven for thinking that every single member of the casts of Downton Abbey and Modern Family had walked away with nominations. (It just seems that way.) AMC’s Mad Men and FX’s American Horror Story tied for the most nominations, with 17 apiece, while PBS’ cultural phenomenon Downton Abbey—which shifted from the miniseries category into Best Drama this year—grabbed 16 nominations (tying with History’s Hatfields &

The Darkest Timeline: Quick Thoughts on Dan Harmon's Firing from Community

On Thursday evening, NBC burned off the final three episodes of Community ’s third season, 90 minutes of the remainder of the season haphazardly arranged around the 30 Rock finale. These well-received episodes tapped into the heart of what makes the offbeat comedy tick: 8-bit video games, an elaborate heist, and a trial over ownership rights to a sandwich shop. If this all seems gonzo and out there, that’s the point: Community blazed creative trails that were largely heretofore unseen on American broadcast network television. If this had marked the end of Community , it would have gone out with a bang that was both joyous and triumphant. NBC had rescued the show with an eleventh hour reprieve, granting it a 13-episode renewal and moving it to the graveyard of Friday nights. But whether Dan Harmon, whose contract expired at the end of the third season, would be returning to the show he created was still very much unknown when the end credits ran on the final episode. It was report

The Daily Beast: "Spring TV Preview: 9 Shows to Watch, 4 Shows to Skip"

With the return of Mad Men and Game of Thrones , spring is officially here. Over at The Daily Beast, I offer a rundown of what’s worth watching over the next few months, and what you can skip altogether. You can read my Spring TV Preview intro here , which puts the next few months into perspective, and then head over to the gallery feature to read "9 Shows to Watch, 4 Shows to Skip," which includes such notables as Mad Men, Community, Game of Thrones, VEEP, Girls, Bent , and others... and those you should just skip, like Magic City, Missing , etc. What shows are you most looking forward to this spring? And which ones are you pretending don't exist at all? Head to the comments section to discuss...

The Daily Beast: "The Women of Community"

At The Daily Beast, Community ’s female stars—and one of its writers—sit down for a roundtable discussion about being a woman in comedy, the show’s legacy, slut shaming, and more. Tears are shed! You can read my latest feature, entitled "The Women of Community ," in which I visit the set of NBC's Community on the final night of shooting Season 3 to sit down with Alison Brie, Yvette Nicole Brown, Gillian Jacobs, and writer Megan Ganz to discuss being a woman in comedy, the “dark night of the soul” ahead, and the Bridesmaids effect, among other topics. Fans of NBC’s Community —the wildly inventive yet criminally unwatched critical darling, now in its third season—were shocked when the network unceremoniously placed it on an indeterminate hiatus. Those same loyal viewers turned to Twitter hashtags, flash mobs, and original pieces of artwork (depicting the Greendale gang alternately as Batman villains, X-Men, Star Wars characters, and even Calvin and Hobbes), all in an

The Daily Beast: "NBC's Community Returns March 15"

While fans of NBC's beloved--if low-rated--comedy Community , which went on an indefinite hiatus in December, have had to make due these last few months with casting news (Giancarlo Esposito! John Hodgman! A Law & Order -themed episode!) and ++fan-generated art++ [http://critormiss.tumblr.com/post/17727815698/savecommunity], there is some good news to be had for the loyal followers of the Greendale study group. Community will return Thursday, March 15 at 8 p.m. with the first of twelve all-new episodes. Multiple sources close to the production confirmed the news, first tweeted by Community creator Dan Harmon, that the Sony Pictures Television-produced show would be returning to its old Thursday night stomping ground next month. Read it at The Daily Beast

The Daily Beast: "Homeland, Justified, Downton Abbey and More: The Best and Worst TV Shows of 2011"

At The Daily Beast, it's finally time for my Best and Worst TV Shows of 2011 list: with 10 shows up for recognition as the best (including Justified, Homeland, Downton Abbey, Community, Parks and Recreation, Game of Thrones, The Good Wife , and more) and five for worst of 2011. (Plus, you can also compare my Best/Worst picks to my colleague Maria Elena Fernandez's.) Head over to The Daily Beast to read my latest feature, " Homeland, Justified, Downton Abbey and More: The Best and Worst TV Shows of 2011," which--as the title indicates--rounds up the best and worst television that 2011 had to offer. Warning: the story may contain spoilers if you are not entirely caught up on the shows discussed here. What is your take on our lists? Did your favorite/least favorite shows make the cut? Head to the comments section to discuss and debate.

The Daily Beast: "Community on Hiatus: Why NBC Is Making a Mistake"

Community fans, this is your St. Crispin’s Day moment. Dumping Community in favor of shifting around the Thursday-night comedies feels a bit like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Community, after all, is not the iceberg that’s sinking NBC. Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my latest story, " Community on Hiatus: Why NBC Is Making a Mistake," in which I look at the case for and against keeping the brilliant and subversive comedy around. For right now, Community airs Thursday evening at 8 p.m. on NBC.

Rolling the Dice: An Advance Review of Community's "Remedial Chaos Theory"

Warning: You do not want to miss Thursday's episode of Community . It's a given that some of the most ambitious episodes of NBC's Community are often the ones with the seemingly most straightforward concepts. Look at Season Two's fantastic "Cooperative Calligraphy" for a strong example of this: the gang at Greendale is locked in the study room when Annie's pen goes missing. A bottle episode is turned on its head (no pun intended) here, transforming a slight idea into a larger one as the group is beset by paranoia and fractures in front of our eyes. The same holds true for Thursday's upcoming episode, "Remedial Chaos Theory," another bottle episode that defies the laws of logic and probability in a way. With Dan Harmon and the writing staff achieving such dizzying heights with "Cooperative Calligraphy," it seemed nearly impossible that they would be able to approach another bottle episode with the same gonzo spirit that made the

The Daily Beast: "The Emmy Awards’ 10 Biggest Snubs"

The nominations are out: Parks and Recreation, Game of Thrones, Friday Night Lights , and Mad Men get their shot at the awards, while Community , Nick Offerman, and many others are shut out. Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, entitled, "The Emmy Awards’ 10 Biggest Snubs," in which I examine shows and actors were snubbed by the TV Academy. Plus, view our gallery of the nominees . The 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards will be televised live on September 18th on Fox.

The Daily Beast: "The Death of Will-They-or-Won't-They"

In recent years, it’s been a given that romantic pairs on television had to be subjected to the will-they or-won't-they dilemma—where couples as clearly in love as Ross-and-Rachel, Sam-and-Diane, or Jim-and-Pam were prevented from jumping into bed together for years, as the writers forced them through increasingly tight narrative hoops. These days, though, it seems like more and more TV couples just will. As writer-producers have sought to surprise the audience, they’re puncturing romantic tropes in the process. Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, "The Death of Will-They-or-Won't-They," for which I talk to Community ’s Dan Harmon, Parks and Recreation ’s Mike Schur and Greg Daniels, and Bones ’ Hart Hanson about how TV is throwing off that age-old will-they-or-won’t-they paradigm in the post-Jim-and-Pam era.

Paintball Battle Royale: Thoughts on the Season Finale of Community

If there's a show that knows how to throw a curveball (or a paintball), that seems to relish deflecting your expectations, it's NBC's Community . The delightfully absurdist comedy wrapped up its season tonight with the second half of a two-part episode ("For A Few Paintballs Or More") that continued the paintball assassin-exploits of last week's Sergio Leone-style spaghetti Western. In looking to top last season's jaw-dropping paintball-themed "Modern Warfare," executive producer Dan Harmon and Company have delivered an astonishing combination of Westerns and Star Wars , paintball and mind games, Stormtroopers, Black Riders, and, er, saloon dancers. (Yes, Vicki, I'm looking at you.) Tonight's season finale firmly embraces the gonzo style of those previous episodes, creating an episode that is both an absurdist adventure plot and the culmination of the entire season's overarching plotlines: Jeff's need to

My Dinner with Abed: Emotional Truths and the Lies We Tell Ourselves on Community

It's safe to say that Community will never give you exactly what you think you're getting. In this case, this week's brilliant and moving episode of Community ("Critical Film Studies"), written by Sona Panos and directed by Richard Ayoade (of The IT Crowd and The Mighty Boosh ), seemed to be a spoof of Pulp Fiction . It looked and sounded--from the promos and the information being sent out by the publicity and marketing teams--like Pulp Fiction , so it had to be a spoof of Quentin Tarantino's landmark film, right? Wrong. While there were elements from Pulp Fiction in play for Abed's PF -themed surprise party at the diner where Britta works, the episode itself was an astute yet emotional homage to Louis Malle's 1981 film My Dinner with Andre , which is essentially a conversation between two men (Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory) about the nature of reality, of fabricated theatre, and of true and honest experiences as opposed to robotic reactions t

PaleyFest 2011: Details From NBC's Community Panel

Everybody now: Pop Pop! Last night marked Community 's second time at the annual Paley Festival and the evening, moderated by The A.V. Club's Todd VanDerWerff, was a celebration of the off-kilter NBC comedy and its cast and crew, which came out in full force (save Donald Glover and Alison Brie, who were shooting) for this hysterical and fun session. The evening began with a screening of this week's upcoming episode of Community ("Custody Law and Eastern European Diplomacy"), written by Andy Bobrow, which featured guest star Enver Gjojak ( Dollhouse ) as Luka, a friend of Troy and Abed's with whom Britta becomes romantically involved. I don't want to give too much away about the episode--it was hysterical, after all--but I will say that it involves war crimes, kidnapping charges, Chang smoking a pipe, and Kickpuncher III , as well as Gillian Jacobs' Britta creating chaos in her wake and the pregnancy/paternity subplot swirling around Yvette Nicole B

Community: The Problem with Pierce

Viewers of Community have embraced the NBC comedy's ability to explore the boundaries of the single-camera broadcast comedy format, gleefully embarking on adventures involving zombies, outer space, chicken finger-hoarding mobsters, pen-stealing monkeys, and much more. But what some viewers have had a hard time doing is offering a hug to the show's most dastardly character, Pierce Hawthorne, played by veteran Chevy Chase. In the first season of Community , Pierce often acted as a personification of the study group's id, a childlike man who frequently expressed the things that each of us progressive, modern people have sworn never to think, let alone say out loud. The problem with Pierce in many ways is that it's become difficult at times to separate Pierce Hawthorne from Chevy Chase. Both men appear to be loud, loutish, and disruptive, prone to being an attention-stealer who often engages in pratfalls in order to grab the spotlight away from one of his costars. (If y